Archive for category Subsidies
Journalists have dug out the beneficiaries of EU-farmsubsidies for citizens to see them at Farmsubsidy.org.
Now a new team of journalists has dug out the recipients of the other large lump on the EU-budget: The regional funding. In a unique cooperation and 8 months research the new London Bureau for Investigative Journalism and the Financial Times have cooperated and followed the money – resulting in important stories.
The team behind has made accessible the underlying database for everyone to search.
Today the Watchdog Blog is happy to present a guest comment by Annamarie Cumiskey, senior journalist at the London Bureau and highly experienced in European affairs.
By Annamarie Cumiskey
It’s a myth that the Italian mafia puts a horses head in your bed if it doesn’t like you. They put a dead dogs’ head in front of your door instead.
And, I know this because while working with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, www.tbij.com in London, in collaboration with the Financial Times, I had chance to meet Colonnello Pierone, the man whose job it is to put mafia bosses behind bars in Southern Italy.
We met to talk about EU structural funds, as part of an eight month long investigation that is being rolled out this week, when the dead dogs’ head came up.
The dead dog was found in our new online database, not literally, but through one of the many ways the Italian mafia has found to get its dirty hands on European taxpayers money.
We brought together all the lists of beneficiaries of the ERDF and ESF under the current €347bn spending round – over 650,000 projects.
One project, the modernisation of the Salerno – Reggio Calabria highway in Southern Italy, has been allocated €400,000, and since then the local mafia have been putting dead dog heads in front of construction workers doors to frighten them into paying extortion money.
Some of the gang members are more sophisticated white-collar criminals, and they really have collared EU grant aid – €1.2bn in recent years according to a report by the Italian financial police.
Don’t worry they can always seek repentence for their sins at the EU grant aided Church of Madonna di Polsi nearby that also happens to be their spiritual home.
The Italian mafia makes it look so easy, and that’s the problem it is.
The Italian mafia, fortunately, is an extreme case of how EU funds are abused, but it shows how impotent the EU institutions are to stop this. And, this will stay the same due to the inherent nature of the EU – 80% of its budget is spent at national level, and the EU can’t control what happens there.
Al Jazeera, BBC Radio 4 File-on-Four, BBC World Service and France 2 will also broadcast programmes based on our research.
Do we really want to transfer million-euro subsidies to individual recipients in the agro-industry? The latest publication of who got what from the EU farmsubsidies proved that the number of subsidy-millionaires has risen significantly. And right now is the perfect time to talk about it, because right now the future of this money-transfer is being debated.
Each year tax-payers send about €55 billion of to the farming industry, to rural areas and to price-correcting measures for food prices. It is called the Common Agricultural Policy, and it is one of the core businesses of the EU. The reform of this policy has to be finalised before the new budget period decision 2013, so major steps are prepared right now.
Do we, journalists, support the idea of an informed public debate? If yes, we should try to contribute by giving information about this money to the public. And as European public debate goes, we should network amongst each other and then address each our target group.
The current farmsubsidy beneficiaries will – logically – try to keep getting money. New players may try to get hold of money for their purposes. Big landowners and agro-business unite to promote food security and the environment. The commissioner of the environments wants to “green” the policy. Green organisations argue for water protection, development organisations and liberalists against dumping of EU dairy products. And so on – a good auld political debate. Fine.
And even much more important to know, how the money is distributed now.
This week a team of journalists and computer programmers from many European countries met on the initiative of the team behind www.farmsubsidy.org. We ‘locked’ ourselves into a room in Brussels for almost two days. Loads of coffee, tea, sandwiches – and of course wireless internet. The common aim: To analyse the data to find stories for each our readers and viewers. And more importantly: to network in order to find the European or cross-border aspects of the material.
For a start we could present the annual list of top-recipients. Predictably dominated by sugar companies, who are still receiving large amounts because of the latest CAP reform on sugar.
We also have a preliminary list of farmsubsidy millionaires.
Then we have the usual list of anecdotes, including money to an accordion club in Sweden, a skating club in the Netherlands and a billiard club in Denmark. Did anyone mention farmsubsidies? For more details see the harvest-festival-press-release by the Farmsubsidy.org team of May 4th.
So in other words: Back to the old saying of English language journalists: Follow the money. After all: € 55 billion per year is worth journalistic coverage. And a public debate.
April 26th, DPA/Spiegel, Germany, Weapon Industry receives farmsubsidies from the EU (full DPA text quoted by Greenpeace)
May 3rd, Euobserver, Brussels, UK delays publication of EU farm subsidy details till post-election
May 3rd, Maskinbladet, Denmark, Sugar barons reap farmsubsidies
May 4th, Vest.si, Slovenia, The list of 100 largest recipients of farm subsidies
May 4th, Guardian, Britain, EU sugar and dairy companies largest recipients of farm subsidies
May 4th, Landbrugsavisen, Denmark, Prince Joachim and Mærsk get EU subsidies
May 4th, Die Presse.com, Austria, 178 million for French sugar corporation
May 5th, Euobserver, Brussels, Bulgarian minister’s daughter, accordion club get EU farm aid
May 5th, Trud, Bulgaria, 1,5 million EU farmsubsidies to daughter of a former Deputy Minister
May 5th, 24 Casa, Bulgaria, Daughter of former deputy minister gets EU farmsubsidy
May 5th, Politiken, Denmark, Prince Joachim gets 1,9 million Danish Crowns from the EU
May 5th, N-TV, Germany, For dead Swedes and surf schools – strange farmsubsidies
May 5th, Bild.de, Germany, Bavaria gets most EU farmsubsidies
May 5th, Agrarheute.com, Germany/Britain Farmsubsidy legt Analyse der europäischen Zahlungsempfänger vor
May 5th, Farmers Guardian, Britain, Civil servants criticised for withholding CAP data
May 5th, Finfacts, Ireland, Number of EU Agricultural Policy mmillionaires raises by 20 % in 2009
May 5th, Guardian, Britain, Who received EU farm subsidies last year? Whitehall won’t say
May 5th, Financial Times, Britain, EU pays subsidies to sugar groups
May 5th, Euractiv.de, Germany, EU-Farm-money: Topincome, lacking transparency, corruption
May 5th, N24.de, Germany, Farmsubsidies for billiardclubs, footballplayers and the death
May 5th, Telegraph, Britain, Accordion players and ice skaters get EU farm subsidies
May 5th, Journalul.ro, Romania, Bizarre beneficiaries of EU agricultural funds
May 5th, Ervhervsbladet, Denmark, The Prince and Mærsk get million-crown subsidies
May 5th, Nordjyske, Denmark, Joachim and Mærsk get their share
May 6th, Týden, Czech Republic, Farmsubsidies to the daughter of the minister and ice skating
May 7th, Die Welt, Germany, Blessed are those who receive
May 7th, Eesti Ekspress, Estonia, EU bought for 85 million kruuda butter and skimmed milk
May 9th, Danish Radio P1/European Magazine, Who’s become a millionaire on EU farmsubsidies
May 9th, Agrar Hirek, Hungary, Hungary ranked first in transparency rating of NGO
May 10th, 24 hours, Bulgaria, More farmsubsidies – 1.6 million to the wife of the deputy minister
May 10th, Trud, Bulgaria, And the wife of deputy minister gets 1,6 million farmsubsidies
May 11th, Vest.si, Slovenia, Agricultural subsidies for the Red Cross Slovenia, the Ljubljana Archdiocese and Caritas
May 12th, Farmers Guardian, Britain, More farm subsidy millionaires than ever
May 12th, Farmers Weekly Interactive, Britain, RPA payments create 27 subsidy millionaires
May 13th, Trud, Bulgaria, Prosecutors investigating Peythevs daughter
May 13th, Trud, Bulgaria, Investigate the daughter of former deputy minister
May 14th, Time Magazine, USA, Even in Hard Times, E.U. Agricultural Subsidies Roll On
May 15th, Yorkshire Post, United Kingdom, Exclusive: £1,700 bureaucracy bill to get 1p subsidy cheque to farmers
May 19th, Vest.si, Slovenia, Analysis of EU farmsubsidies distributed in Slovenia
May 29th, Agencia Latino Americana de Informacion, Stiglitz’s lesson regarding the FTA with the European Union
May 21st, Capital Weekly, Bulgaria, Problems in agricultural programs and regulations – and morality
May 30th, Euro.cz, Czech Republic, Who eats an EU grant
June 1st, Mayo News, Ireland, Mayo receives €119m from CAP
June 17th, Guardian Comment, United Kingdom, CAP provides another bumper payout for landowners
July 5th, Guardian Editorial, Common agricultural policy: rotten but here to stay